Visa Europe’s 2009 financial results
provide evidence that debit payment continues to grow, and now
accounts for 75 percent of all Visa card payment volume in

Significantly, while debit card numbers showed
modest overall growth compared to 2008 (at a little over 3
percent), POS transaction numbers increased by almost 10 percent,
and point of sale spending rose by more than 6 percent.

Visa Europe’s fiscal 2009 ended in June of
that year, with the total number of Visa cards (credit, debit,
commercial and other) issued across the region amounting to over
380 million, a rise of 5 percent compared to 2008. Purchases and
cash withdrawals made on these cards totalled €1.3 trillion ($1.8
trillion). Some 11.2 percent of consumer spending at the POS in
Europe was made with a Visa card.

The number of POS transactions grew by more
than 8 percent, suggesting that consumers are using their Visa
cards for an ever increasing proportion of their everyday spending
– and, consequently, the average value of these POS transactions
fell by four percent to €50.30.

However, the rate of growth for both POS
expenditure and cash withdrawals on Visa cards has slowed
significantly compared to 2008’s results, indicating that European
consumers still retain a cautious attitude to card spending.

CI analysis of Visa Europe’s results show POS
expenditure grew by only 3.7 percent in 2009 to reach €856 billion,
whereas in 2008, the growth rate was 10.37 percent. Meanwhile, cash
withdrawals grew by only 2.56 percent last year, compared to 8.15
percent in 2008.

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By GlobalData

Growth of debit and

However, it is clear that debit is
the mainstay of Visa Europe’s strategy, complemented by the advent
of contactless payment for low-value transactions and prepaid

Visa Europe CEO Peter Ayliffe said: “There are
currently six million contactless cards in Europe but by the end of
2010 we expect there to be 12 million.

“Contactless payments will be as radical a
change in the way we pay as e-commerce has been in the last 10
years. It provides a serious alternative to using cash for making
small, everyday payments. It means less queuing and more
convenience for consumers while increasing sales and lowering costs
for retailers.”

Visa Europe’s V PAY debit solution is also
gaining traction, with more than 7.5 million cards issued by the
end of 2009. Over 120 banks in Europe are committed to issuing V
PAY for a total of 50 million cards. E-commerce also represents a
huge growth sector for Visa, and now accounts for 20 percent of all
Visa spending in Europe.

Ayliffe added: “We have achieved strong
results in 2009 despite the very challenging economic conditions.
What is changing is the way people spend their money. There has
been a marked shift towards debit card spending, particularly for
lower value transactions, as well as a continued growth in online

“The number of PoS transactions on a Visa
debit card is up by over 10 percent in Europe, representing 77
percent of all Visa transactions. This proves that consumers and
retailers are increasingly viewing debit cards as a superior
alternative to cash. This will bring significant benefits to the
European economy as we move further away from inefficient and
costly cash payments.”

Helping Visa Europe’s push into increased
debit and e-commerce penetration is its investment in its
processing systems and fraud detection systems, such as Real Time
Risk Scoring, which analyses and risk-scores card transactions as
they happen.

Alongside initiatives such as EMV and the
online authentication system Verified by Visa, during 2009, the
fraud to sales ratio on Visa cards in Europe decreased by nearly 15

Financial results

Visa Europe 2009






% change y-o-y




Gross cardholder expenditure (€trn)








POS expenditure (€bn)








Cash withdrawals (€bn)








Source: Visa Europe, CI